Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sermon for the Last Sunday after Pentecost, November 26, 2006

This is the last Sunday before Advent and is also known as Christ the King Sunday. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus with four weeks of preparation, perhaps it is fitting that we have a celebration of the Jesus as Christ the King before we begin.

Jesus has many titles by which we know him. Christ the King, savior, redeemer, King of the Jews. But in the lesson today Jesus reminds us today that his kingdom is not from this world. The word kingdom comes from the Greek word basileia. It is a word that is generally translated as kingdom in most English translations but also could be translated as realm or as process.

We celebrate Christ the King Sunday in the midst, once again, of apocalyptic writings. And again we are faced with our choice of responses. We can choose to respond in fear or in hope. We could decide that all was lost and not worth saving, but once again we would be missing the truth of God. In the midst of this possible fearful response we have the promise of Christ the King. The words of Hymn 544 remind us that “Jesus shall reign where’er the sun doth his successive journeys run; his kingdom stretch from shore to shore, till moons shall wax and wane no more.” This idea that God will triumph is very comforting, particularly when we face tough circumstances.

This brings us back to that idea of the basileia of God. One of the reasons that I like the term the process of God better is that the word kingdom carries too much baggage for us. It puts in my mind the idea of a peaceful place where God is in control and we have nothing to worry about. We can just lay back and take it easy.

But if we look at what is before us as the process of God then it is a much different thing. It is not a destination to which we breathlessly arrive ready for a long and well deserved rest. It is not some perfect place just around the corner that we just have to wait for it to show up. Instead, it is now something on going. Something God is working to make happen. And hopefully something that we are working with God to make it happen. Being a Christian is not about sitting around on a couch waiting for God to deliver the goods. It is about taking seriously our responsibilities to work with God in this process of the basileia of God.

What does this basileia of God look like? It is people trying to solve the world problems of hunger. It is people working towards the millennium development goals to work on this world wide problem and it is people bring bags of food for our food bank to work on this local problem. It is people who don’t say, there is too much wrong in the world, nothing can be done. When you look at the millions of children dying every year and the wars and famines all over the world it can seem hopeless. But God still wants each one of us to do what we can. No one though much would come of a small child born in Bethlehem. I’m sure no one thought much of Sr. Teresa. But the Christ child transformed the world. Sr. Teresa has touched millions of lives making them better.

It is people who role up their sleeves and say, “what can I do, where can I help.” It is people visiting those in prison. It is people offering to sit next to a visitor and help them with our service. It is standing up for people for things that don’t even affect you because it is the right thing to do. It is writing your senators, congress persons, and other elected officials expressing your opinions on issues. The basileia of God is so many things and appears in so many ways, that I could never list them all.

The basileia of God is a process all of us are called to participate in, not a final destination we hope to be magically transported to. And if you look around you see it is true here at St. Peter’s. We are all striving to bring about the basileia of God in our own way. Examine your heart and your life. What can you do for the kingdom of God today?

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